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Backlink Building is one of the most important techniques you can use to help grow your online presence. Unfortunately, backlink building is also one of the most difficult and time-consuming parts of SEO. Because of this, it’s very tempting to want to make shortcuts to gain links.

The fact of the matter is that all links are not equal. While strong links can increase the SEO value of your website, the wrong type of link can harm your website and negatively affect your rankings.

What is a Bad Backlink?

Luckily for us, we don’t have to look very far to find out what Google deems a bad link, because they tell us on their link schemes guide.

“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in a Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”

To put it simply, links that are not editorially placed and have the sole purpose of increasing search ranks, are considered toxic backlinks.

How Can Toxic Backlinks Hurt Your Organic Rankings?

Years ago, it was quite normal for websites to use manipulative links to boost their organic rankings. And for a time, it worked very well. But over the years, Google’s algorithms have evolved to make sure that these kinds of links are a thing of the past.

But what exactly happens if Google discovers that you have toxic links? First, they will not immediately penalize you if there are only a small number of them. They will let you know under the “Manual Actions” section of Google Search Console.

But if you do not remove those links, you may start to see the negative side effects.

If those links are not removed, your site can suffer from an algorithmic filter, also known as an algorithmic penalty or adjustment). This is where Google’s algorithm applies an adjustment to your rankings, having detected unnatural links, rather than a human.

To recover from an algorithmic filter caused by bad links, you need to stop those tactics and disavow those links which you suspect to be problematic. Unfortunately, you likely won’t recover rankings to where they were before the adjustment, as your site was unnaturally held up by bad links.

Backlink Building Tactics to Avoid

Paid Links

When money is exchanged for a link, you are directly violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It’s as simple as that, and this also includes paying for sponsorship fees for guest posts, as well as gifting products or services.

While this is not allowed from an SEO perspective, you are more than welcome to use sponsored content for reasons other than building links. To be safe, include either a no-follow tag or a sponsored tag to any included links for full transparency.

Private Blog Networks

A Private Blog Network is a black hat link-building tactic that involves building and maintaining a collection of sites that are used for the primary purpose of adding links to other sites.

Google has been actively been pursuing and closing down, such networks for years, with high-profile instances all the way back in 2014. Google will eventually discover any PBN, and the penalties for being on them can be severe.

Spam Comments

If you run a WordPress site, you’ve likely seen notifications to approve comments for your blogs that seemingly have nothing to do with the content you’ve written, and also include a random link. This is comment spam.

This tactic is often used in forums, posting comments and responding to threads with replies that make absolutely no sense but include a link to another website.

These links are incredibly easy for Google to find since they are typically just the same comments made on different pages. And unfortunately for you, it will hurt your site when Google eventually finds them.

At the end of the day, the best way to build links is through creating strong content for your websites and for others’ sites that benefits both parties. It is an incredibly difficult line to walk, but when done properly it can do wonders for your site. If this is something you are interested in taking off your plate, contact us for our SEO services.

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